21 December 2023
12pm EST/6pm CET
DocTalks x qswg
Session 2

S.E Eisterer, Princeton SoA &
Facundo Revuelta, FADU, University of Buenos Aires

Places as means to account for politics and protest in the genre of memoirs
(Cleve Jones, When We Rise, 2016)

Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS-PSL) Paris

Carl Wittman, Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto (The Red Butterfly / Gay Liberation Front, 1970)

American LGBT+ rights activist Cleve Jones got much visibility through the biopic Milk (Van Sant, 2008) and the series When We Rise (Black, 2017). The latter happens to be inspired by his memoirs, a thorough account of the advancement of LGBT+ rights in the USA from the 1970s to nowadays. This historical testimony holds a more personal project as he pays tribute to deceased activists and victims of AIDS while addressing queer generations to come. This intent of testifying while transmitting, some would say lobbying, greatly benefits from various uses of space, strategies central to this paper that binds literary non-fiction, queer history and spatial studies.

Places convey meaning and carry strong imageries (geopoetics), especially in the politically and aesthetically charged context of the “long 1960s” (1958-1974). California, the city of San Francisco and the Castro district, where Cleve Jones campaigned alongside Harvey Milk, are among these iconic “sites of memory”. Other hotels, bars or bathhouses testify to the marginality of LGBT+ minorities in a structuralist perspective (geocriticism), which is even more perceptible when Jones depicts the outburst of AIDS and its clinics.

The San Francisco queer margins famously depicted by Carl Wittman (A Gay Manifesto, 1970) exist in opposition to “the mainstream” and its norms, which gives political and legal battles a critical importance in a time of opportunity as much as striking violence. Campaign headquarters, marches and university campuses seem to allow for critical encounters and mobilizations (literary geography) and many of these places stand out as heterotopias (Foucault, 1967), radical and replicable utopian sites for community experience and challenging the norm.

At a broader scale, some of Jones’ mobilizations over the American road or foreign explorations offer refreshing perspectives on spatial studies as he witnesses unique transnational and generational dynamics connecting places through ideals and protest.


Domestic Delights of Roberto Burle Marx
at Santo Antônio da Bica’s Estate

FAU, University of São Paulo, Brazil

Flower arrangements and interior design by Roberto Burle Marx at Santo Antônio da Bica Estate around the 1960's, Barra de Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. MOTTA, Flávio. GAUTHEROT, Marcel. Roberto Burle Marx e a nova visão da paisagem. São Paulo: Nobel, 1983.247 p., il. p.b. Color.

Over the past four decades, gender and sexuality scholars have highlighted the importance of public and commercial spaces in the formation of male homosexual encounters, social networks and identities. However, few have explored the parallel role of private spaces in promoting social and sexual relations between men.

This essay investigates the domestic life of brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx from the early 1970s until 1994, related to the acquisition of Sítio Santo Antônio da Bica (Estate) at Barra de Guaratiba in Rio de Janeiro (1949). In addition to serving as botanical and landscape experimentation laboratory (DOURADO, 2009), the Estate was thought as an 'ideal home', symbolically and functionally accommodating all needs of the designer (SCHLEE, 2020) and his partner César, with whom he made "culinary delights" and recurrent parties, in the combination of ingredients and in their presentation in colorful crockery on hand-painted tablecloths by Roberto himself, adorned with native plants.

As for the receptions at the Sítio, whether in the veranda of the main house or in the Cozinha de Pedra, we seek to look at Burle Marx's spatial appropriations and a possible non-aligned, or less expected, domesticity for time, bringing together the reports of the receptions and historical documents related to the history and materiality of the Site in question. Among the guests are the painter Alfredo Volpi, the composer Vinicius de Moraes, Pablo Neruda, Le Corbusier, Lucio Costa and Mercedes Sosa.

For that reason, the unveiling of the private sphere, explored through discussions in the field of domesticity (HEYNEN, 2005) on the life of Burle Marx, adds a new perspective to the study of his contributions to landscape architecture in Brazil and enriches the discourse on gender and sexuality in the history of architecture, revealing possibilities about the place as well as how Brazilian LGBTQIA+ heritage.


Archiving Queer Spaces in Berlin
Using LiDAR and Virtual Reality


Benjamin Busch, "Scanning the Horizon: An Immersive Archive", 2022. Virtual Reality still. Interactive website: https://queerspaces.berlin
Alt Text: Colorful circular points of light float on a black background with varying density, sometimes amassing what appear to be the vibrantly lit surfaces of a bar or club. One can make out multicolor disco balls, seating booths, bar stools and tables, and a TV screen, with a cyan "Play" symbol hovering toward the back of the depicted space. Some viewers may recognize the Berlin darkroom bar Ficken 3000 in the image.

Queer spaces represent both a negation and an opening: they are spaces of necessity, of refuge, but they are also places for utopian projection, for performing how life could be and how, in many ways, it already is. Historically, queer spaces — bars, clubs, cafés, cinemas, community centers — have been overlooked as important sites worth memorializing as part of a common cultural heritage, resulting in the loss of memory and attendant difficulty regarding the past through archival materials. Only in the present is it possible to document these spaces in a self-determined way, to secure compelling materials that can be used in future retellings. Since 2021 I have, with my multi-part artistic project “Scanning the Horizon”, documented 25 queer spaces and 6 monuments in Berlin using the digital imaging technique of professional spatial LiDAR scanning. Beyond photography, the resultant full-color point cloud scans serve to artistically render these queer spaces in new ways, including as a 3D interactive website and a VR experience. Working closely with the spaces, I have formed archival materials that preserve one facet of their complex life: the physical space, at a certain point in time, with all its collectively produced residues and signs of use. In this presentation, I will share the first part of my artwork and the process behind it, an interactive website that presents 3D scans alongside audio interviews, and I will also give a glimpse into the subsequent VR works. In these works, a certain agency is given to the viewer that mirrors the author’s: the ability to inhabit both real and para-real positions in the virtual space, generating a productive form of dissociation that situates infrastructural regimes of computation in the body of the viewer, making tangible and calling into question the invisible alienation that saturates the everyday life of users.

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